Ongoing Help from Blood Donors Keeps Young Boy Alive
By Tahira Taqi
Six-year-old Joseph Newport needs blood transfusions every three weeks to stay alive. The Newport family adopted Joseph from China at nine months of age. Soon, they learned he had Thalassemia Major, the most severe form of anemia. The only treatment to combat this life-threatening disease is regular blood transfusions.
Wide-eyed Joseph has a simple explanation, “I don’t make red blood cells, so I need people to put blood in bags for me.”
Joseph’s bone marrow is missing the genetic markers that make functioning red blood cells. Since he doesn’t make any red blood cells, he will have blood needs for his entire life.
Soon after Jennifer adopted Joseph and brought him home, there was a very serious blood shortage in China. If Joseph had stayed there, because of the limited supply, it is possible that he would not have received the blood needed to survive.
“So here in Oklahoma, thanks to all the anonymous donors who come in and donate blood, we have a nice supply,” said Jennifer. “We are very fortunate because I have seen firsthand what can happen when you don’t have a good blood supply.”
Joseph was exposed to a lot of blood donors in China before he came to America. Because of that and his specific condition, it’s very difficult to get blood matches for Joseph.
“We really count on the fact that the donor pool is large so that they can really search for good ones,” said Jennifer.
Joseph can get itchy hives and have allergic reactions to the blood if the blood is not the right match. OBI has developed a special group of donors that are the best match for Joseph and contacts them to donate on a regular basis for Joseph. The OBI staff also performs special testing to make sure that the blood given to Joseph is absolutely the best they can find for him and for his long-term health.
“When Joseph gets a blood transfusion, he’s always full of energy afterwards and likes to run and play,” said Jennifer. “But when he doesn’t have the blood, he’s just very restless and lies around.”
“OBI gets my blood from strangers, who put blood in bags for me,” said Joseph. “Thank you for putting blood in bags for me.”
Jennifer realizes how incredibly serious it would be if Joseph didn’t get blood every month, and she is very thankful for those that donate.
“Although I know sometimes in our busy lives it’s hard to find time, that one hour that it takes for somebody to donate blood really does save a life, and in some cases, more than one,” said Jennifer. “So even though it takes a few minutes of your time and it’s hard to come by, it really is important.”
Click here to schedule your life-saving donation.
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200 donations and counting
Ken Malone began donating blood as a freshman at the University of Arkansas in 1969. In the mid-nineties, he became a platelet donor. In January 2005, he moved to Oklahoma and began donating with Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) at the Tulsa Donor Center where he has averaged twenty-two platelet donations a year. Both of Ken’s parents, his mother-in-law, and two of his grandparents passed away of cancer, so he is acutely aware of the importance of platelets in the treatment of cancer. On March 5, 2014, Ken made his 200th donation.
Ken is Senior Manager of Telecommunications at AVIS Budget Car Rental Contact Center. Although he is not able to donate at his company’s blood drives, he encourages his fellow employees to donate blood.
Some years ago Ken was going on a cruise. Before scheduling his cruise, he asked an OBI employee about places he could or could not go ashore as he did not want to risk deferral.
We would like to thank Ken for his dedication to saving lives through platelet donation.
Click here to schedule your life-saving donation.
New Mother Saved, Thanks to Donors
By Sunshine Wingfield, Community Relations Intern
Bryan and Katy Roybal could not have been more excited as the couple welcomed its first child into the world: a precious baby girl named Jane. But only a short time after delivery, Bryan noticed his wife seemed pale and shaky.
Bryan says it quickly went from being the best day of his life to the worst as he watched Katy fight for her life. Doctors discovered Katy was hemorrhaging, and she was immediately rushed to surgery. The procedure did not effectively stop the bleeding, and Katy hemorrhaged a second time. She then underwent an emergency hysterectomy. In total, she needed 22 units of blood plus platelets.
“I shudder to think about what would have happened if there hadn’t been blood available,” Katy said. “Without those who donated, my daughter would not have her mother, and my husband would be raising Jane alone.”
Having almost lost his wife in 2011, Bryan was inspired to become a blood donor. “I plan on giving regularly now,” he said.
“We are grateful to all the people who gave blood and saved my life,” said Katy. “They have given our family a second chance.”
Thank You for Keeping Me Alive!
Driving down the highway on August 11, 2011, I could have never imagined what lie ahead. During a sudden downpour, my car hydroplaned off the road and into a concrete culvert.
Not only was the passenger side completely crushed, but the transmission was cut in half and the steering wheel was bent. Witnesses didn’t think I was going to make it. I was rushed to Muskogee Regional Medical Center but then transferred on to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa two days later.
Among other brutal injuries to my pelvis, vertebrae, and eye, I also tore the main ligament in my neck that supplies all of the blood to the spinal cord.
I received two plasma transfusions after losing copious amounts of blood.
After reaching a point of stability, I was released on August 29, 2011. But the long road to recovery was only beginning. I was sent home with a tracheotomy and was in a wheelchair, but started physical therapy a couple weeks later and had surgery to get the screw taken out of my pelvis.
Now, I still have short-term memory loss, major headaches and neck pain. But because of those who donated blood, I am still alive.
I attend Northeastern State University in Tahlequah every month for traumatic brain injury therapy to regain my memory and learn to multitask.
In April 2013, I became a blood donor and started giving back. I just want to thank everyone who is and has donated blood to save people’s lives like mine. Every donation truly makes a difference. God bless you all!
Pictured above, Haley in front of the culvert where she crashed.
We would like to thank Haley for using “Share Your Story” to tell us her story.
Little Survivor Gives Thanks
Last December, Isabelle Ratcliff was just returning home for the holidays. The eight-year-old, Tuttle girl had spent months in the hospital battling leukemia. But as her strength began to return earlier this year, she and her mother took a very important outing. The two visited an Oklahoma City donor center to give thanks to donors giving blood. Isabelle wore her special shirt proclaiming, “I’m ALIVE Thanks To A Blood Donor.”
“Seeing the donors brought back memories for Isabelle,” said Rebekah Ratcliff, mom.
In the summer of 2011, Isabelle ran a high fever that wouldn’t break. She was sent to the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. Before she could undergo tests, she had to be given two units of blood and a unit of platelets. Tests revealed Isabelle had leukemia.
While spending five months in the hospital, Isabelle received numerous blood transfusions, and today she is cancer free. She and her family realize the value of blood donation, and hope that by showing their appreciation in person, they can be an encouragement to donors.
When asked to explain what happens with donated blood, Isabelle remarked, “They send it to the hospital, and give it to kids who need it.” And though the process is a bit more complex than what she described, Isabelle definitely understands and is grateful for the life-saving gift of blood this holiday season.